21 May 2020 – today’s press releases (part 1)

And if you thought that yesterday was intense…

  • Lib Dems: Tackling the climate crisis is at the heart of coronavirus recovery
  • Govt must reimburse missed tuition to student nurses called up to the frontline
  • 51,906 asylum seekers trapped on just £5.39 a day during coronavirus crisis
  • EU Settled Status deadline must be scrapped, as grants crater during coronavirus crisis
  • New stats show damaging impact of Priti Patel’s nasty immigration rhetoric

Lib Dems: Tackling the climate crisis is at the heart of coronavirus recovery

The Liberal Democrats have secured cross-party support for their calls for local authorities to be empowered to enact measures that would help tackle the climate emergency as well as recover from the coronavirus crisis.

The cross-party letter sent to Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick states “we cannot simply return ‘back to normal’” and that “tackling the climate emergency is at the heart of our recovery”.

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for the Climate Emergency, Energy and the Environment Wera Hobhouse initiated the letter, putting forward measures that include incentivising councils to support sustainable travel, revitalising high streets and allowing local authorities to close streets to traffic at allocated times.

Following the letter, Wera Hobhouse said:

We cannot return to ‘normal’ following the Covid-19 crisis. The measures introduced by the Transport Secretary to promote the use of sustainable transport are welcome, but without cross departmental buy-in they will fail to have a lasting impact on how we travel.

We cannot forget that we are facing a Climate Emergency – this pandemic has highlighted the link between congestion and pollution, public health and the quality of our towns and cities. It is time to take action and reinvest in our community spaces for the next generation.

The Liberal Democrats are clear that the Government need take steps to empower local authorities if we are to implement changes which will make our communities more modern, more environmentally-friendly, and more enjoyable places for everyone to spend their time.

Govt must reimburse missed tuition to student nurses called up to the frontline

The Liberal Democrats have called on the government to reimburse student nurses for the tuition of their final term of teaching they have missed due to working on the frontline.

The letter to Matt Hancock from Liberal Democrat MPs Layla Moran, Munira Wilson and Sarah Olney states “given the financial hardship final year nurses have faced, and the commitment they have shown to serving the NHS during this pandemic, we ask that the Government directly reimburse student nurses for their final term of tuition fees.”

Following the letter, Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Olney said:

Many student nurses have heroically stepped up to the frontline during the coronavirus crisis. Instead of having their final term of teaching, they are working to save lives in the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic.

However, they are still paying tuition fees for a course cut short by Covid-19. Although the Tories have thankfully reversed their decision to scrap nurses’ bursaries in 2015, this has still left the current cohort of final year nurses without financial support.

It is not right that student nurses are paying fees for tuition they aren’t receiving, as they risk their own health to care for our loved ones during the pandemic. They are on the frontline working to slow the spread of the virus and provide critical care for those in need. The Government must step up and directly reimburse student nurses, it is the very least they can do.

51,906 asylum seekers trapped on just £5.39 a day during coronavirus crisis

The Liberal Democrats have urged the Government to increase the amount of support for asylum seekers while they wait for a decision on their claim and give those waiting more than three months the right to work, as new Home Office figures reveal a backlog of 51,906 pending asylum claims.

The latest Immigration Statistics, published this morning, show that 51,906 people are waiting for an initial decision on their asylum claims, an increase of 33% since last year. 31,516 have been waiting for more than six months, a 68% increase.

Currently, asylum seekers are banned from working while they wait for a decision and forced to rely on asylum support payments of only £37.75 a week – just £5.39 a day.

All Liberal Democrat MPs have written jointly to the Home Secretary urging her to increase asylum support by £20 a week during the coronavirus crisis – in line with the increase to Universal Credit. This matches calls from charities Refugee Action, the Salvation Army and others.

In the letter, the Liberal Democrats also call for asylum seekers to be given the right to work if they are waiting for a decision for more than three months. The party argues that this would allow them to fill essential roles during the pandemic, as well as to support themselves, integrate in their communities and contribute through taxation.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

The coronavirus crisis is leaving the most vulnerable in our society at risk. We must ensure no one is left behind.

People who’ve come to the UK having fled war or persecution should welcomed with compassion and enabled to contribute to our society, not trapped for months on just £5.39 a day – especially now during this pandemic.

The way the Home Office is treating these vulnerable people is appalling and unacceptable. The Government must urgently increase support for asylum seekers in line with the emergency increase for people on Universal Credit.

Ministers should also finally give asylum seekers the right to work, allowing them to fill essential roles during the pandemic, as well as giving them a sense of dignity, more money and the ability to contribute to the economy.

EU Settled Status deadline must be scrapped, as grants crater during coronavirus crisis

The Liberal Democrats have called on the Government to scrap the June 2021 deadline for EU citizens to apply for the right to stay in the UK, as new Home Office figures reveal a big drop in the number of Settled Status applications and grants last month.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine has called on the Government to take up her European Citizens’ Rights Bill, which would give EU citizens in the UK before Brexit the automatic right to stay, with no deadline.

The latest EU Settlement Scheme statistics, published this morning, show that just 41,600 people were granted Settled Status in April, down from 77,800 in March and 157,000 in January. The number of applications to the scheme has also fallen sharply, from 351,800 in January to 125,000 in March and 67,300 in April.

In total, only half of the estimated 3.6 million EU citizens in the UK before Brexit have been granted Settled Status, despite the Prime Minister’s repeated promise that all of them would automatically be given the right to stay.

Today’s figures show a backlog of 315,900 people still waiting for a decision on their application. A further 1.3 million people have been granted only the temporary Pre-Settled Status, meaning they will have to reapply within five years or lose the right to stay.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

The coronavirus crisis has shone a spotlight on the enormous contributions EU citizens make to our public services, our economy and our society. They must have the right to stay.

No one ever seriously believed the Home Office would be able to ensure every EU citizen had Settled Status by June next year, but the coronavirus crisis makes it impossible.

It’s completely understandable that Settled Status applications and grants have dropped so dramatically as people focus on the devastating impact of this pandemic. Ministers must adapt to this new reality and scrap their arbitrary deadline.

Liberal Democrats are fighting for the rights of EU citizens. I urge the Prime Minister to honour his promise to give them the automatic right to stay in the UK and take up my Bill which would do just that.

New stats show damaging impact of Priti Patel’s nasty immigration rhetoric

Responding to today’s migration figures from the Office of National Statistics, which show that the number of EU citizens coming to work in the UK has fallen to its lowest level since 2004, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

Now more than ever, we should be celebrating the enormous contributions that workers from all over the world make to our NHS and social care. We should welcome those who want to come here and be part of rebuilding Britain. But the nasty rhetoric from Priti Patel and her Conservative colleagues has made too many EU citizens feel unwelcome in the UK.

That is both shameful and hugely damaging to our economy, our society and our public services. With the NHS facing a shortage of 40,000 nurses and social care also badly understaffed, we desperately need to be able to recruit people from elsewhere in Europe.

Priti Patel’s wrongheaded immigration plans will make things even worse, at a time when British employers can least afford it. If the Conservatives press ahead with these plans, they will deal a massive new blow to the NHS and businesses across the country, just as the economy is beginning to recover from the coronavirus crisis.

That’s why Liberal Democrats are opposing the Conservatives’ damaging immigration plans and arguing instead for a fair, effective and compassionate immigration system that works for our economy and treats everyone with the dignity they deserve.

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One Comment

  • Antony Watts 22nd May '20 - 8:16am

    Immigration

    It is quite simple. If UK has a legal treaty with another country that covers legal and democratic agreements – in other words the “ambience” of the two countries are the same, the there should be fee movement both ways.

    That’s why there is no substitute for the EU treaties, now broken.

    If Brexit was all about immigration, how come the non-EU immigration is now up to 280,000/yr while EU has fallen to just 48,000/yr? Break a treaty they don’t come, have a wrong focus – economically good for us – and they flock in

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